Behavior Modification.docx

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4 Apr 2012
Behavior Modification Chapter 4
- Reinforcement is the process by which behavior is strengthened by the
immediate consequence that reliably follows it occurrence
- Ex. The cat example with Thorndike
o When the cat was hungry it was more likely to hit the lever because the
behavior had resulted in an immediate consequence: escaping the cage
and getting food
- Ex. Skinner conducted studies on the principle of reinforcement with animals
such as rates and pigeons
o Each time the hungry rat pressed the lever the device automatically
delivered a pellet of food
o The behavior of pressing the lever increased the frequency relative to all
other behaviors the rat had exhibited when put in the chamber
Defining Reinforcement
- When behavior results in a favorable outcome that behavior is more likely to be
repeated in the future in similar circumstances
- It may occur naturally as a part of our day-to-day plans or may be planned \
- Reinforcement is defined as:
o The occurrence of a particular behavior
o Followed by the immediate consequence
o Results in the strengthening of the behavior
- Behavior is strengthened when there is an increase in one of the four
- Strengthen = operant behavior acts on the environment to produce a
consequence and in turn, is controlled by, or occurs again in the future as a
result of the immediate consequence
- The consequence is called the reinforce
- Ex. A child cries at night to get her parents attention (reinforce)
- The frequency of the behavior is low during baseline and rises as the behavior
is reinforced
- Duration ex. Wanted to increase rational talk of schizophrenic patients was
reinforced by the nurses giving more attention and one-on-one chats
o At the same time, delusional talk was not reinforced
- You can reinforce behavior BUT not reinforce a person
Positive and Negative Reinforcement
- BOTH are processes that strengthen behavior and both increase the probability
that the behavior will occur in the future
- Postive :
o The occurrence of the behavior
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o Followed by the addition of a stimulus or an increase in the intensity of
the stimulus
o Results in the strengthening of the behavior
- Negative:
o The occurrence of the behavior
o Followed by the removal of the stimulus or the decrease in the intensity
o Results in the strengthening of the behavior
- Stimulus is an object or an event that can be detected by one of the senses and
thus has the potential to influence the person
- May be part of the physical or social world
- Postive = positive stimulus
- Negative reinforcement = aversive stimulus
- Ex. The mother’s buying her child candy results in the termination of the
child’s tantrum (an aversive stimulus is removed) therefore the mother is
more likely to buy her kid more candy to remove it (NEGATIVE
- One produces a stimulus and one prevents the occurrence of the stimulus
the behavior is more likely to occur in the future in BOTH
- Negative reinforcement is not the same as punishment negative reinforment
increases the behavior while punishment weakens or diminishes it
- Reinforcement is always defined by the effect it has on behavior, this is called
the functional definition
- To determine if a particular consequence will be a reinforcer for a particular
person, you have to try it out and measure its effect on the behavior.
- Whenever your analyzing if its negative or positive reinforcement:
o What is the behavior?
o What happened immediately after the behavior? (stimulus added or
o What happened to the behavior in the future?
Social versus Automatic Reinforcement
- When a behavior produces a reinforcing consequence through the actions of
another person, the process is social reinforcement
- Ex. Asking your roommate to bring you a bag of chips
- When the behavior produces a reinforcing consequence direct with the physical
environment, the process is automatic reinforcement
- Ex. You went to the kitchen and got the chips yourself
- Premack principle engage in a high-probability behavior (preferred behavior)
as a consequence to the low-probability behavior (less preferred) to increase
the low-probability behavior
- Ex. Your parents say you can go out to play only if you do your homework.
Escape and Avoidance Behaviors
- The occurrence of behavior results in the termination of an aversive stimulus
that was already present before the behavior occurred
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